Hitoshi Hanai, Koki Asakawa. Sengo Nichibei Kankei no Kiseki </i>(<i>The Course of U.S.-Japan Relation in the Post-War Era</i>). Tokyo: Keiso Shobo, 1995. x + 253 pp. Y 2,575 (cloth), ISBN 978-4-326-35107-7.
Reviewed by Nobuko Toyosawa (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale)
Published on H-USA (August, 1997)
Post-War U.S.-Japan Relation
The Fiftieth Anniversary of the end of World War II called for the re-examination of post-war U.S.-Japan relations. The fifty-year evolution of Japan--from being an occupied nation to one of the most prominent economic powers in the world--has attracted many historians, foreign analysts, and scholars in many fields. Hitoshi Hanai and Koki Asakawa, professors at prestigious universities in Japan, initiated a project to survey particular events that happened, in relation to the post-war era. With excellent scholars in Diplomatic History, International Relations, International Politics, Security Issues, and U.S.-Japan Relations, the project members jointly completed nine chapters of intensive research. They did not make much use of primary sources, and this may downgrade their work. However, readers can get a well balanced broad view of the course of post-war U.S.-Japan relation in a straightforward structure.
Starting with the evaluation of the Allied Occupation of Japan, authors conclude that Japan revitalized with policies designed by the Americans. During this time, the Japanese adopted the idea that Americans were the saviors; the Americans began to take this attitude for granted, as well. Authors point out that this belief is still common today--though Japan has become one of the strongest economic powers in the world, second to the United States. The relationship has become one of the most influential powers in the world. Not only would one country's collapse severely harm the other's, but it could cause chaos in all over the world. Therefore, the authors emphasize that it is time to reconsider the relationship for the twenty-first century.
When the Cold War emerged, the United States urgently attempted to keep Japan on its side and to make the latter a wall in Asia against the communist threat. The Security Pact and other agreements between the two nations had solely one purpose: Japan existed to demonstrate American strategic plan in Asia against communist Russia. The more the Japanese economy developed, however, the more politicians began to question the imposing demands from America regarding the defense strategies. Beginning in the 1970's, Japanese politicians eagerly launched reform policies against the existing defense programs and the Security Pact and normalized relationship with other nations.
Around this time, the incredibly rapid growth of the Japanese economy began to threaten the Americans even though the United States had wished Japan's recovery at the time of the Occupation. The economic friction between the two nations became a burning issue. Furthermore, the fall of the Cold War loosened the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. As a result, the emphasis on the joint U.S.-Japan preparation for Soviet attack began to cease to exist. Then, Japan's economic development was the sole threat to the United States. This created various forms of Japan bashing and started to diminish the Japanese favoritism toward the Americans.
The collapse of the Cold War challenges U.S.-Japan relation as a new trial. The research discloses many obstacles that the two nations face: economic concerns, security issues, and cultural and ideological differences. The authors conclude that the relation needs to build a sincere friendship and trust as its foundation. They do not itemize what aspects the two nations need to work on. Instead, they set the stage for readers to ponder and search for the future objectives in the U.S.-Japan relation.
It seems that the purpose of this study is to trace the history of the U.S.-Japanese relations, and to evaluate its path. Nonetheless, as a reviewer, I strongly believe that the authors should have expanded their conclusions and formulated some sort of a proposal rather than making readers explore possibilities for the future. The authors present neatly organized descriptions of significant issues in the U.S.-Japan relation since the end of the war and offer a profound overview of the course that the two nations have pursued. It is disappointing that the discussions end as just reminders. However, readers will find the frequent use of graphs and figures helpful in relating the money exchange issue, for instance. In addition, most of the chapters have a separate introduction and conclusion that give readers a good expectation of what is to be discussed in the chapter.
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Nobuko Toyosawa. Review of Hanai, Hitoshi; Asakawa, Koki, Sengo Nichibei Kankei no Kiseki </i>(<i>The Course of U.S.-Japan Relation in the Post-War Era</i>).
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